The NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline received a recommendation for approval of the original route as proposed from the federal government Wednesday.
Environmental hurdles to building the $2 billion line can be adequately managed by the company and its partner, Houston-based Spectra Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced.
The announcement came in the form of a 541-page “final environmental impact statement,” or FEIS, on the project that is to originate in Columbiana County in eastern Ohio and travel through 10 counties, including Medina and Lorain, to Michigan and then to a hub in Canada.
The FEIS will be used as information for the three FERC commissioners to make a final decision on whether construction may begin as planned in early 2017, FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said shortly after the statement was posted online.
FERC Chairman Norman C. Bay, Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur and Commissioner Colette D. Honorable will use the impact statement to decide if:
- the pipeline is needed
- the project is environmentally sound
- the rates for transport of natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale region in Ohio’s Appalachian Basin to markets in Michigan, Canada and elsewhere are “just and reasonable.”
Young-Allen said there is no deadline for a commission decision, but the early 2017 expected construction start means it is likely to occur within weeks.
The FERC report concluded the project will “result in some adverse environmental impacts” but that those will be “reduced to acceptable levels with the implementation of (the companies’) proposed mitigation measures and the additional measures recommended by staff in the FEIS.”
Approximately 40 mitigation measures were listed.
“The issuance of the FEIS is another timely, major project milestone that keeps NEXUS on track,” Spectra spokesman Adam Parker said in a statement.
The project first was discussed in August 2014 and Parker said NEXUS provided input “from landowners, communities, key stakeholders and environmental permitting agencies.”
Parker’s statement said “the NEXUS project will not have a significant adverse effect on local communities.”
The statement said in the first five years of operation, tax revenue of $412 million will be generated with about $125 million going to school districts in Ohio and Michigan.
Parker’s statement said that FERC “did not find any evidence that property values would diminish as a result of the pipeline.”
The company said the pipeline will be helpful to utility companies who are converting from coal to natural gas for generating electricity.
FERC’s decision is likely to be followed by legal challenges from groups opposed to the project.
Paul Gierosky of York Township, a leader of the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS that advocated an alternative route through Medina County, has said his group will continue to pursue the issue even after the FERC makes all its recommendations.
“Today’s decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission means the route for the NEXUS pipeline through Northeastern Ohio will come at the expense of property owners who will be forced to give up their land through eminent domain and receive nothing in return,” Gierosky said shortly after the FEIS was released.
“In Medina County, 71 percent of property owners — and five of six townships — affected oppose the route; in Lorain County it is 60 percent of property owners; in Summit County 85 percent,” he said.
The final environmental impact statement was a rejection of attempts to re-route NEXUS, he said, as the report said it “eliminated (the alternate routes) from further consideration.”
FERC “evaluated major route alternatives to the proposed pipeline route” but found that “none of these would offer a major environmental advantage over the proposed route,” according to its statement.
Sharon Township resident Kathie Jones, an organizer of Sustainable Medina County, a group opposing the pipeline, said in an email:
“The FEIS is not surprising but this is not a final decision to build the NEXUS pipeline. It is just a fast recommendation.
“Sustainable Medina County plans to stand together with the residents of Medina County to continue to oppose the NEXUS pipeline and compressor station as we believe the health and safety of Medina County residents are more important than the profits that Spectra Energy will make by building this pipeline. We are contemplating another County Charter proposal.”
The Ohio Supreme Court this year rejected a request for a court order to place a county charter on the Nov. 8 ballot. If passed, the charter would have created a community bill of rights and put restrictions on businesses engaging in gas and oil drilling techniques called fracking. The charter also would have allowed residents to oppose pipeline construction in the county.
Of Wednesday’s decision, Jones wrote: “Medina County residents still do not have to permit their property to be surveyed by NEXUS landmen and they do not have to enter into easement agreements.
“If Medina County residents see any pipeline or compressor station construction taking place, they need to immediately contact Sustainable Medina County at their website sustainablemedina.org or send information to P.O. Box 1033, Wadsworth, Ohio 44281 — as this is illegal activity until FERC issues a final permit,” she wrote.
Legal cases involving surveyors entering privately owned properties remain pending in Medina County Common Pleas Court.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s final environmental impact statement on the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline project can be found at: https://www.ferc.gov/industries/gas/enviro/eis/2016/11-30-16-eis.asp
Contact reporter Marina Malenic at (330) 721-4063 or email@example.com.
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